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Student creates Ecuador program for high schoolers

March 28, 2012

Dedicated student visits Ecuador

Seth Danner might know a thing or two about the environment. He's the Coordinator of Sustainability for the Associated Students of Colorado State University, the university's student government. Last year he worked to get all campus departments on common ground to allow them to collaborate on upcoming programs and projects. He's headed up the push to alternative means of transportation for CSU students, encouraging the use of bikes by providing free breakfast for a month to bicyclists, and giving away a total of 50 helmets and 2,000 bike lights.

Out of everything he is working on, though, one of the most exciting things he's involved with got off the ground over Thanksgiving break. While everyone else was enjoying turkey dinners, Danner, who in his spare time works as the Society of Global Health Researchers in Action Vice President of Internation Outreach, was on his way down to Cosonga, Ecuador to check things out for an alternative spring break being offered to high school students by the Society of Global Health Researchers in Action.

Student run non-profit

SOGHR is a student run not-for-profit organization in Fort Collins founded by CSU graduate student Phoenix Mourning-Star, that has a CSU chapter dedicated to supporting the financial needs of tomorrow's global health researchers in their quest to become great stewards of the health of the planet.

With the sponsorship of SOGHR, high school students will have the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with SOGHR personnel like Danner, to work with a partnering NGO on building greenhouses and teaching English. Cosanga, Ecuador is a compact town of five to eight blocks that sits in a bend in the road on the Eastern Andean slope. Danner describes the people there as friendly and welcoming. “Everyone there has a strong sense of community and knows each other,” he said. He described the people in the town as enthusiastic about the program.

Because the town of Cosanga is so close to the Amazon, they get a great deal of rainfall and their ability to grow crops, such as vegetables, is difficult. The greenhouses that are in the works will help the community maintain their health and nutrition.

'Power of connections'

Danner said that he felt the most worthwhile reason for American students to travel to Cosanga is to experience the “power of connections.” He said his favorite part of being there was to see the commonality that students in Cosanga and the United States have despite the differences in the places they come from. “Kids in Cosanga have hard lives,” Danner said. “They do a lot of hard work, and life is focused around survival, but when the initial awkwardness fades away, and they all start talking about families, girlfriends and boyfriends, it's all the same.”

In addition to planning logistics for the students trip to Cosanga, Danner also spent some time in the Amazon planning a field trip for students to go hiking there and spend the night in the world's best known tropical rainforest. He promises that students who sign up will see things they've never experienced before. In addition, the price of the trip is very affordable compared to many other opportunities, because the work is supported by fundraisers such as a 2012 5k series to be held April 14. Students will stay in Cosanga in a volunteer house and get a strong feel for the local culture.

Students and community members interested will be assisted in planning and fund raising for the experience, and may contact SOGHR for more information.

Contact: Ashlyn
Phone: (719) 238.2801